Do you ever stare at your image files on the computer screen and think that while they're "okay", perhaps they could be better? Or do you ever suffer from the photographer's version of Writer's Block and can't find anything to shoot?
I sometimes study my images and try to come up with a way to make the not-so-special shot a bit more interesting - here's where recycling comes in. For me, recycling usually involves arranging a composite by utilizing elements of more than one image.
This came in handy recently when I'd been at the beach shooting one of my whippets - I had a few decent photos of him running towards me, but I wanted to make an image that could create a little more impact - so I took four of those shots, cut him out of three of them using Topaz Remask, and inserted the extra three into the fourth photo. I wasn't completely sure it would be accepted but I thought I'd at least venture forth and submit it.
To my complete amazement, not only was it accepted, it was given an Editor's Choice!
I've been experimenting lately with a few composites - this shot of a cabin on the beach was made up of two shots - the beach, which had dogs in it that needed to be cloned out, and a boat shed that was originally photographed on the edge of a lake. The beauty of composites is that we can decide ourselves exactly where to place compositional elements - we often don't have that luxury when out shooting, we can only try to find the most pleasing angle and try to work with that.
This shot is also a composite of two photos - a derelict farm house and a young girl who was originally photographed against a backdrop of a pine plantation. In this instance I've done some extra processing as well, adding a sepia, desaturated appearance to convey age and what the image is supposed to be about - poverty. I felt the muted tones would work well and was pleased with the final result.
The earth in the hand image is compiled of three shots - the hand, which was originally holding a dark blue rubber ball, the background, which was sea grass against a backdrop of ocean, which I blurred in Photoshop to give an out of focus appearance, and the earth itself, courtesy of the NASA website.
This image of the full moon against a meadow is two shots - the meadow, which on its own was rejected (too boring, perhaps) and another NASA image, the moon. I added some extra processing here to bring out the richness of the colors, and upon submitting the boring meadow this time (with the new addition of the moon), the shot was accepted.
I have quite a few composites in my Creative
gallery now. I find that searching my library for images that will couple together well helps me on those days where I do get the creative blahs and either can't get out to shoot, or don't know where to go to shoot, or really don't feel that much inspiration to shoot. Sometimes it helps to brainstorm a few themes, and dig through my image library to see what elements might be relevant and work well into that theme.
Recycling images means I can still upload, even if I can't get out to shoot. When first studying the images after a shoot, before being too quick with the delete button, I find it's handy to hang onto shots providing the quality is acceptable, because I never know when some element within an image might help me with a composite later on down the track.
Composites aren't for everyone, of course - some folks prefer only working with images straight from the camera...but for those of you who like to dabble a bit with Photoshop, this is a great way to recycle the boring and perhaps create something really special. :)